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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disease in which the brain shrinks and brain cells die. Broadly speaking, this is a form of dementia, a mental decline severe enough to interfere with daily life. As the human body ages, the likelihood of developing such degenerative diseases also increases. According to the Dementia India Report 2020, 7.6 million Indians are expected to have dementia by 2030, up from 3.7 million in 2010.
According to Lancet Commission studies, 10-15% of patients may first show symptoms at age 30, but the disease becomes more common between 5 and 60 years of a person’s life cycle. However, the age-specific incidence of dementia is declining in many countries, probably due to advances in health care, nutrition, education and lifestyle choices.
Despite decades of research, the challenge of identifying the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease has delayed the development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. However, a scientific study on modifiable risk factors for dementia was conducted in 2020 by the Lancet Commission, which consists of physicians from various specialties, including public health experts and epidemiologists. They identified 12 risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease that, if managed in a timely manner, may prevent or delay dementia.
Modifiable risk factors include hypertension, diabetes, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, hearing impairment, visual impairment, poor education, low levels of social contact, and air pollution. Conscious effort and lifestyle changes can help manage these risk factors and reduce the risk of dementia.
The five senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell—provide information about ourselves and help us interact with the outside world. Sensory input helps us protect and regulate our likes and dislikes, interactions and experiences. Our brains and neural networks require regular stimulation from these sensory systems to function properly and stay healthy.
Regular physical examinations and early diagnosis of risk factors such as hearing loss and vision problems can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Techniques such as comprehensive eye exams, intractable error correction, and cataract surgery help more than 80% of vision impairments. Similarly, removing earwax, treating infections, or using hearing aids can solve many hearing problems.
One of the identified modifiable risk factors, social isolation, is increasing as a result of urban living and nuclear families. Additionally, the pandemic has also contributed to the risk of dementia and increased the incidence of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. , may be advantageous in managing this risk factor.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of dementia, according to a study conducted at Washington VA Medical Center and George Washington University. According to the study, her more than 600,000 patients aged 60 and older showed that those who exercised regularly had a 33% lower risk of developing dementia. All forms of exercise, including aerobic exercise such as cycling, swimming, and running, physical activity such as sports and dancing, and housework where 3 hours of housework equals his 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, are beneficial in managing physical inactivity. has been proven to be Risk factor.
With the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease on the rise, it’s important to raise awareness of findings that could help people reduce their risk of developing dementia. This is an important step towards reducing the risk of dementia and towards a healthier future.
The authors are consultants, neurologists, and experts in cognitive-behavioral neurology.